In the late 1800s, long before the world was graced with the Internet and its infinite rewards and business opportunities, the traveling salesman was setting the stage for consumer culture as we know it today. Pulling a cart of combs or clocks, or anything worth a nickel for that matter, these fast-talking peddlers were often met with harsh criticism (much like the telemarketers of today).
Perhaps the most loathed of them was cowboy-turned-peddler Clark Stanley, or “The Rattlesnake King,” who earned his bad reputation by roaming the country selling what was later found to be fake rattlesnake oil, eluding that the concoction — which was essentially mineral oil, beef oil, red pepper and turpentine, had the same benefits of Chinese water snake oil (a legitimate remedy for inflammation brought to the states by Chinese workers in the 1800s). The term “snake oil salesman” is now used in a derogatory manner toward shady businesspeople and politicians with fraudulent tactics.
Although most salesmen of this time were not made to be legendary characters like Stanley, and their products were less provocative than Stanley’s Snake Oil, peddlers were essentially the pop-up ads of their time — uninvited, unwanted, and pushy. In the late nineteenth century, in fact, there began to emerge distinctly aggressive sales tactics which coincided with the rise of mass-manufacturing firms like Carnegie Steel and Coca-Cola. The American salesman had been born, and with him the tactic of face-to-face sales.
However loathed the salesmen may have been, they knew a thing or two about the importance of having a face to go along with a product — a sentiment which still rings true today. Even in our seemingly impersonal virtual world of convenience and efficiency, people are drawn to people, and relationship marketing works.
One of the most effective modern tools available for businesses to connect with the public is YouTube. With nearly three billion videos watched per day and six billion hours watched per month, videos provide an opportunity to reach a large number of people. If you haven’t already, it’s high time you give the people what they want (your face), and take your business to YouTube.
As with all marketing tools, there’s an art to creating content for YouTube. For many established businesses, perfecting that art isn’t something they want to delve into this late in the web game. Perhaps the challenge of creating quality video content is too daunting, or they’re afraid of damaging their image if the video doesn’t live up to customer expectations. In any case, making videos that bring attention to your product doesn’t have to be rocket science or terribly time-consuming. A simple two-minute clip can be written, edited and posted online in a few hours. Here are a few things to consider before pressing “record”:
- Teach Your Trade
Content that shows off your expertise by way of tutorials or educational slots on topics of the trade will give your business additional credibility and garner interest in what you do. These tutorials can be sent out to an email list or linked to social media accounts as teasers. You can use YouTube to teach about and demonstrate your products. Big Apple Pet Supply provides a great example of how to use product demonstration with amazing results. By showing the capabilities and practical usage of each product, their channel enjoys interaction with subscribers and an opportunity to put a face to their name.
Of course, without consistency, YouTube’s most outstanding success stories would not be possible. Uploading a new video every day may be out of the question, but setting a time each week is manageable and effective. Be punctual. The attention span of the masses is short at best — the moment they stop seeing regular posts, they’ll turn the channel. And let’s face it, dedication and trustworthiness matters. In fact, the regularity of your content may be more important than the quality of the content itself.
- Time it Right
Speaking of attention (do I still have yours?), it may come as no surprise that the first few minutes of your video are extremely important. Pull your viewer in from the get-go, and don’t say more than necessary. Planning when to post your video is essential to reaching as many people as possible. The ideal situation would be to post content at peak Internet hours, and on the most relevant day to your product (no one wants to buy a snow shovel in July, for instance). Consider the mindsets of people on different days of the week, holidays, and seasons, and sell to that collective emotion. Take advantage of people’s obsessive social media habits, and put your content out there when you know they will see it.
With a bit of creativity and foresight, any business can use YouTube for fresh leads or to build a loyal fan base. We’ve come a long way from the peddling days of yore, but business should remain personal, no matter how technology is repurposed to initiate connection and give ideas value. If used properly, YouTube can be a very effective tool to show the world that your business is personable, loyal, and above all, relevant. After all, it’s not like you’re peddling snake oil.
What are some ways in which you’ve used YouTube to connect with customers? Share your success stories!